At LJ’s Design Institute (DI): Charleston, held on Friday, October 21, at South Carolina’s Charleston County Public Library, attendees from around the United States delved into how best to transform their libraries to rise to their communities’ new challenges.
Susan F. Gregory, director of the Bozeman Public Library, MT, welcomed attendees of LJ’s Design Institute (DI) to the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Silver-certified building this May. Opened in 2006, the facility is at once both warmly rustic, clearly inspired by its spectacular mountain setting, and right on trend with the best of national library design. It offers open sight lines, a lofty roof with metal accents, lots of glass (balanced by plenty of wood), hands-on tech, and spaces for people inside and out, making it the perfect setting for attendees to plan the right library for their own communities.
The story of the Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML), OH, main library renovation is a familiar one these days: indeed, it has become practically archetypal. A gorgeous old Carnegie, opened in 1907, had long since been outgrown. Over the century and with four additions, it had been married to expansions—the most recent bringing the library to more than 250,000 square feet. Done in 1991, at the height of the trend of stack-centric libraries designed to maximize collections, this latest reformation included virtually no windows, lest the books be damaged by sunlight. Now, a people-first renovation has gently polished the Carnegie and dramatically opened up the addition, thinning the (still ample) collection to focus on space for community in the form of events, meetings, coworking, and simply relaxing and reading—perhaps with a cup of coffee from the new Carnegie Café.
The transformation is evident even before visitors enter. Moving down Boylston Street from Copley Square, past the side of the historic McKim Building, the façade of the Boston Public Library (BPL) no longer resembles a bunker. The massive granite slabs that once obscured the entrance are now embedded in the pavement. Through the glass, passersby can see people lining a laptop bar. It’s 10:30 on a Thursday morning, and the place is jamming.
The announcement of LJ‘s 2016 academic New Landmark Libraries gave use an opportunity to showcase exemplary design and service in academic libraries. Upon getting the list of winners and honorable mentions, I realized five of the eight libraries were located in areas through which I would be traveling on a planned trip from New Jersey to North Carolina.